The similarities between asthma and bronchitis are quite large, which is why these diseases are often confused. However, the first pathology is much more severe than the second. Therefore, it is necessary to know how asthma differs from bronchitis.

You need to understand that there are several types of bronchitis, and some of them belong to pre-asthmatic conditions. They have symptoms similar to asthma, and treatment is also based on general principles. However, they are not the same disease. Therefore, one should find out what is the difference between AD and asthmatic bronchitis.

Bronchial asthma and bronchitis

Bronchitis and asthma are respiratory diseases. In the chronic course of bronchitis, their symptoms take on similar features, especially if bronchitis is accompanied by obstruction (impaired bronchial patency). Asthma is a chronic disease, bronchitis can also be chronic.

If left untreated, bronchitis can cause asthma. But the differences between obstructive bronchitis and asthma still exist, and you need to know them in order not to miss the moment of the transition from one disease to another.

Etiological differences between asthma and bronchitis

There are several criteria by which these diseases are distinguished. One of them is etiological differences. This is the difference in the causes of bronchial asthma and bronchitis.

Therefore, it is worth considering how bronchitis differs from bronchial asthma in terms of provoking factors.

Of the diseases that are accompanied by obstruction, one can name:

  1. Chronical bronchitis. It is a complicated form of an acute illness. The root cause is an infectious process caused by bacteria, fungus or virus. With improper treatment or its absence, violations become permanent, which leads to a transition to a chronic form. Also, these disorders can be caused by exposure to chemicals that pathologically affect the respiratory tract.
  2. Bronchial asthma. This disease is of non-infectious origin. It is associated with increased sensitivity of the bronchi. With this pathology, an inflammatory process is always present in the bronchi, which is exacerbated by the influence of provoking factors. Depending on the root cause, allergic, non-allergic and mixed types of the disease are distinguished.
  3. Obstructive bronchitis. The pathology is of infectious origin. The main feature is bronchial inflammation and obstruction. This disease is acute and chronic.
  4. Asthmatic bronchitis. It occurs when the body has a tendency to allergic reactions. If an infectious process with a chronic course develops in the bronchi, this type of pathology may develop. Further exacerbation of the disease can cause asthma.

According to the above, bronchitis and asthma differ in the mechanism of occurrence. The first disease provokes an infection, in the second case, this factor is not among the provoking ones. However, AD has significant similarities to bronchitis. 

Differences by features

In the absence of medical knowledge, it is difficult to understand which disease caused the symptoms: bronchial asthma or obstructive bronchitis. In some cases, obstruction occurs even with ARVI. This is possible with a weak body, which is why it is often observed in children.

These diseases have similar symptoms, which creates confusion. These include:

  • shortness of breath (observed on exhalation);
  • obsessive cough that gets worse at night;
  • enlarged veins in the neck;
  • cyanosis;
  • the need to use auxiliary muscle groups when breathing;
  • flaring of the nostrils when inhaling;
  • strengthening of pathological symptoms after viral diseases of the respiratory system, physical activity, in stressful situations, in contact with allergens.

All these symptoms are characteristic of both diseases. Therefore, knowing them is necessary not in order to understand how to distinguish bronchitis from asthma, but in order to turn to a specialist in time to make the correct diagnosis.

Signs of bronchitis

To figure out how to distinguish asthma from bronchitis, it is necessary to consider in detail the manifestations of both pathologies. It is not necessary to diagnose and begin treatment on your own, but knowing the symptoms will allow you to notice the disorders characteristic of a more dangerous disease.

Since the disease occurs in several forms, it is worth considering the signs inherent in each of them.

Acute bronchitis is most different from bronchial asthma. A feature of this disease is the absence of a tendency to relapse. It develops as a result of an infectious process that affects the bronchi. With proper treatment, the disease goes away without complications. It is characterized by severe cough, fever, shortness of breath, and sputum production.

With chronic bronchitis, the disease becomes recurrent. Exacerbations are observed two or three times a year when exposed to adverse factors. This pathology is characterized by the following symptoms:

  1. Cough with an abundance of phlegm, which may be contaminated with pus. There is no tendency for the symptom to intensify in the evening and at night. 
  2. Temperature increase.
  3. Shortness of breath of varying severity.

Severe attacks, which are accompanied by suffocation, are not observed with this disease. There is also no status asthmaticus.

With an obstructive form of pathology, patients complain of a dry cough (occasionally it is wet). The phlegm is almost not excreted. During the attacks, the patient tries to cough, but there is no relief. In the chest, wheezing is heard, which is recognized without a phonendoscope.

Inhales are elongated, air enters the respiratory tract with a wheeze. Since obstruction occurs usually when exposed to provoking factors, patients may notice an increase in symptoms in specific circumstances (under the influence of cold, when inhaling substances with a pungent odor, etc.). Asthma attacks are not typical for such a disease.

The symptoms of the asthmatic type of bronchitis are very similar to those of asthma, which is why it is called pre-asthma . This form of the disease is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing;
  • noisy and sharp breaths;
  • exhalation is accompanied by shortness of breath;
  • wheezing;
  • hyperthermia;
  • dry cough.

When the seizure is over, phlegm is released, which provides relief. Status asthma is not observed in this disease. If asthmatic bronchitis is of an allergic nature, then its exacerbations are noted after contact with irritants. 

Signs of bronchial asthma

Bronchial asthma is a serious and dangerous respiratory illness. If it is present, it is necessary to carefully monitor your well-being, since an exacerbation can be fatal. In this regard, it is necessary to detect this disease in time. Therefore, you need to know how asthma differs from bronchitis.

To determine how to distinguish asthma from bronchitis, you need to study its symptoms. The main feature of the disease is the mechanism of development of pathological manifestations. Bronchial obstruction in bronchial asthma is caused by the increased sensitivity of the bronchi to certain influences. 

They can be both internal and external. AD is not caused by infections or viruses. The inflammatory process occurs under the influence of irritation, which is provoked by allergens, adverse weather conditions, etc. It is because of this that there is a difference in symptoms.

The manifestations of the disease include:

  1. Choking caused by bronchospasm. This phenomenon occurs due to the influence of provoking factors.
  2. Dry cough. This symptom is systematic. The reaction can intensify when interacting with stimuli.
  3. Wheezing. They are heard when inhaling. With exacerbations, wheezing can be heard without a phonendoscope.
  4. Labored breathing. In this case, there is a feeling of heaviness in the chest, coughing and wheezing, but the patient’s body temperature does not rise.
  5. Increased incidence of ARVI.
  6. Asthmatic status. The severity of the condition can fluctuate depending on the intensity of exposure to the allergen.

The disease is characterized by frequent exacerbations, which either accompany infectious diseases of the respiratory system, or occur on their own. Sometimes they are seasonal. This is possible with an allergic type of pathology. In this case, bronchial asthma may be accompanied by other allergic manifestations (rhinitis, conjunctivitis, profuse lacrimation, etc.). 

At the initial stage of the disease, the symptoms are low in severity, which is why patients do not go to the doctor.

Differential diagnosis

The two diseases under consideration have much in common, which is why even specialists cannot always distinguish bronchitis from asthma. Therefore, it is necessary to use different diagnostic procedures.

These include:

  1. Blood test, general and biochemical. Based on the results, you can establish the presence of an allergic reaction. Also, AD is indicated by an increased content of eosinophils. The amount of immunoglobulins in the blood increases. Obstructive bronchitis is indicated by leukocytosis and increased ESR.
  2. Sputum analysis. In AD, sputum contains many eosinophils. Bronchitis is indicated by the presence of mucus and pus in the sputum, and neutrophils are also found in it.
  3. Radiography. It is used to detect pathological changes in the bronchi and lungs and to analyze their features. This method is considered additional due to the low information content at the initial stage of the disease.
  4. Spirometry. This study allows you to study the function of external respiration. Both diseases are characterized by a decrease in indicators, but in each case they are different.
  5. Allergic tests. They are carried out if the allergic nature of AD is suspected.

One of the main differences between bronchial asthma is the inability to recover completely. This disease can only be controlled. Bronchitis of any type (except asthmatic) is treatable.

Since even experts identify the differences between bronchial asthma and bronchitis with the help of diagnostic procedures, it is unacceptable to draw conclusions about one’s own state on one’s own. Wrong actions provoke the development of complications.

Differences in the treatment of bronchitis and asthma

Considering pathologies such as bronchitis and bronchial asthma, it is necessary to find out what is the difference between the treatment of these diseases. Since these are different diseases, a different therapeutic approach is envisaged to deal with them. Also, the features of treatment depend on the form of pathology and the characteristics of the organism.

The basis of the treatment of bronchitis and asthma is the elimination of the causes that cause them. In the first case, it is necessary to fight the infection. For this, antibacterial and antiviral agents are used. With an exacerbation of asthma, it is very important to limit the patient’s contact with the irritant. If this is not done, the attacks will recur as soon as the effect of the medication wears off.

The rest of the measures in both cases involve symptom relief. Bronchitis requires the use of mucolytic drugs, with the help of which the sputum is liquefied and excreted. At elevated temperatures, the patient is prescribed antipyretic drugs. Sometimes drugs may be needed to help dilate blood vessels. If the patient suffers from an obstructive type of disease, bronchodilators should be taken in addition to the medicines listed .

During an asthmatic attack, bronchospasm occurs, due to which all the symptoms appear. Therefore, one of the main groups of drugs are bronchodilators . They help to eliminate bronchospasm, and with it cough and difficulty breathing.

Since this disease is accompanied by inflammation of the bronchi, it is necessary to use anti-inflammatory drugs. It will not be possible to completely get rid of the inflammatory process, but medications will help weaken their manifestations and reduce the likelihood of a second attack.

Another part of treatment is immunotherapy. BA is caused by an increased sensitivity of the body to certain stimuli. Strengthening the immune system can reduce this sensitivity and weaken reactions. The patient is prescribed immunomodulatory agents and vitamin complexes.

He is also recommended to have improved nutrition, feasible physical activity and hardening procedures. Treatment for asthmatic bronchitis is similar to that for bronchial asthma, as these diseases are very similar. If the body is prone to allergies, antihistamines are additionally used. 

The doctor will determine the dosage of drugs in each case individually. It is impossible to change them without prescribing it, as well as using other medicines.

Treatment of bronchitis in asthma involves the use of all these measures.

Can bronchitis turn into bronchial asthma?

To understand whether bronchitis can turn into asthma, you need to analyze the similarities between these diseases. In both cases, an inflammatory process in the bronchi is observed, only with the first disease it is episodic, and in the second it is permanent. With improper treatment, inflammation persists for a long time, which becomes a favorable factor for the development of complications. One of them is BA.

Chronic bronchitis often turns into asthma also because, due to the frequent use of strong antibiotics, the patient’s immune system weakens. This leads to an increase in the body’s sensitivity to external stimuli. The situation can be complicated by the patient’s improper lifestyle, for example, bad habits.


The diseases in question belong to the same group of pathologies and have similar symptoms. The main difference between bronchitis and bronchial asthma is that the first disease can be cured with the right approach.

Therefore, at the first manifestations, it is necessary to consult a specialist so that he can make a differential diagnosis and prescribe the necessary drugs. Self-medication is prohibited.